Rules are made to be interpreted

For any type of marketing there’s going to be some in house rules. There has to be. Often these are obvious: use the logo, include the URL. Sometimes they are a matter of style. Don’t crop the logo or, format the URL: www.likethis.com not: http://www.likethis.com/ . Occasionally they are more important and could have legal ramifications: don’t let others trade off our brand and trademarks by giving away our logo.

Some rules that may seem to be heavy-handed or squashing creativity might actually have a different reason than you expect. For example, companies want you to use the corporate email signature because it has details required by law in certain jurisdictions. Or, you avoid a color because it means bad luck in a particular culture. Sometimes certain rules are set because they make content more easily consumed. They could make content more accessible to the visually impaired, the color blind or the dyslexic.

All rules exist on a sliding scale of importance. It is the role of a brand person to know where the rule sits, why it was created and where the rules can be stretched, changed or followed in spirit rather than letter.

Because there is always some wiggle room, there’s always a way to interpret the rule. But when creating modern marketing materials, much like modern art, before you can break the rules you need to know them. You need to know why the rule was written and what it’s intention is. You need to know the history before you can say if and how it can be broken.

So if you’re creating something that could break a rule, find out why that rules exists and discuss with your brand team about how it can be interpreted. The answer may surprise you.

Have you ever found a rule that was created for a reason you didn’t expect? Let me know in the comments below software task management.